‘Where it’s possible, we’re continuing to work on public spaces.’ And the work that’s still in progress is not confined to any single place. Construction consultant Peter van Oerle takes us on a virtual working tour around the public spaces in Zuidas.
Although the tunnel underneath Europaboulevard was actually already completed last week, Van Oerle is eager to mention this work. ‘Because of the circumstances, this was a job that we moved forward. Our original plan was to tackle the traffic situation here at a later stage, but that would have caused some disruption.’ Van Oerle is delighted that this work has been done. ‘Lots of people use the cycle path/footpath because it leads to such places as ROC and RAI and is an important cycling route connecting Zuidas with Amsterdam Zuid. We’ve made the tunnel safer and straightened the traffic lanes, so it is all much more organised now. And with the streets so quiet because of the coronavirus, people have hardly experienced any disruption at all.’
Further on, work is also underway on the hotel nhow Amsterdam RAI. Van Oerle: ‘A designer hotel like this deserves an attractive street setting. The City’s design team drew up a special plan in order to make that happen. We’re almost completely finished and are just adding the final touches.’ Further along, work is also being done in collaboration with the contractor on the plot for the new Crossover building. ‘This land is now being prepared to enable construction to start in May.’ Part of the work involves installing an underground heat storage system, which requires drilling approximately 150 m into the ground. ‘This kind of system uses the deeper groundwater to cool the building in the summer and heat it in the winter.’
Puccini method continues
The tour then reaches Domenico Scarlattilaan and Tomaso Albinonistraat, where a new streetscape is being worked on. Van Oerle: ‘In 2019, there was a lot of construction work here, including on the EMA building. Much of the road was used as a construction route in order to enable the work to be done. With EMA now completed and work nearly finished on the hotel Van der Valk behind it, we can now smarten up the area. Currently, for example, we’re working on the construction of a footpath leading from Tomasso Albinonistraat, in front of the Van der Valk hotel, to RAI station.’ The public spaces are being landscaped by means of the Puccini method. This method involves the standardised, high-quality landscaping of public spaces. That means that the space needs to be user-friendly, accessible, safe, manageable, sustainable, affordable, cohesive and attractive. We expect the major work here to be completed by mid-May.
Safety takes priority
Van Oerle: ‘It’s important to stress that we’re not continuing work ‘as normal’. We’re working in a smaller team and because we have to work and manoeuvre at a distance of 1.5 m from each other, we can’t do as much work as we originally intended. Safety now takes priority over schedule.’ In Gershwinlaan, for example, the work should have been completed by Easter. ‘Since The Gustav building is finished and The George is also nearing completion, we also want the public space here to be of high quality. Unfortunately, because of the new way of working, we’re behind schedule and still working on it.’ Current expectations are that Leo Smitstraat will be usable again by the weekend of 9 May 2020, Gershwinlaan will be ready by mid-May and the link from Gershwinlaan to Beethovenstraat will be completed by the end of May.
In order to enable work to continue at all times, work is being moved forward, as in the case of Europaboulevard. Van Oerle: ‘In Parnassusweg, near the train entrance to Amsterdam Zuid station, the traffic situation is currently not as safe as we’d like and we’re eager to make improvements. Since it’s currently not so busy there, we’re starting work to make the crossing and cycle path/footpath less complicated. When the situation eventually returns to normality, people will at least be able to enjoy several improvements that will enhance the flow of traffic.’